Arts & Culture

Arts & culture

Despite being one of the first and oldest forms of popular music, opera sometimes struggles to connect with 21st century audiences. However, Anthony Roth Costanzo is breaking down the genre's stodgy stereotype and making opera more accessible — taking his distinctive sound to the masses, from a sixth-grade classroom in the Bronx to NPR's own Tiny Desk.

For generations, R. Elamparithi's family farmed rice paddies in a lush corner of southeast India that's also dotted with coconut palms and banana groves.

But 10 years ago, a representative from a nearby palm oil production plant visited, and convinced him to switch over to oil palms.

Oil palms grow bunches of fruit that look like dates or small plums, flanked by prickly fronds. The fruit is pressed, yielding palm oil — which is used in all sorts of processed foods, cosmetics and even biofuel.

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DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

The title of The Sisters Brothers is both tongue-in-cheek and matter-of-fact. It's about two brothers with the last name Sisters: Eli Sisters and Charlie Sisters.

The whole movie is like that, a series of deadpan jokes wrapped in a shambling no-big-deal realism. The humor never feels arch or tacked-on; it wells up naturally from the characters and the funny, stirring, brutal story in which they find themselves.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

For nearly two decades Enric Marco was a highly respected figure in Spain, widely known as a Holocaust survivor, Civil War hero and resistance fighter against the Francisco Franco regime. He even held public speaking engagements detailing his experiences in a concentration camp.

But every bit of it was a lie.

In 2005 Marco's masquerade was exposed to the world by historian Benito Bermejo — piquing the interest of novelist Javier Cercas. As Cercas soon discovered, "he had made up everything. Not only about that, I mean — he invented his whole life."

Life Can Be A Mess, But So Is 'Life Itself'

Sep 20, 2018

Imagine that you sit down in a darkened theater to see a film about which you know nothing. (This film does not exist, but go with it.) In the first scene, a man lovingly rehabilitates a three-legged dog. In the next — apparently unconnected — scene, a young girl sits behind the wheel of a car on her father's lap, giggling as he lets her "drive." Words come up on the screen: "Written by Dan Fogelman." At this point, if you are smart, you will lean over to the person next to you, and you will whisper in their ear, as inconspicuously as you can.

"Success and celebrity doesn't quite go with comedy," Gilda Radner once said. "Because there's something about being an underdog and a voyeur that makes comedy possible."

There's a deft sleight-of-hand at work in John Bellairs' The House with a Clock in its Walls, a children's mystery published in 1973, about warlocks and witches, necromancy, and a doomsday machine that nonetheless carries itself with whimsy. Those who encountered the book as children will remember the lingering creepiness of its gothic elements, enforced by Edward Gorey's illustrations, and the old house at 100 High Street, which is full of wonder and terror in equal measure.

What if Merchant-Ivory ... but woke?

What if you took the sumptuous production design of A Room With a View or Howards End — all those bustles and corsets and dickeys and top hats, all those horse-drawn carriages and calling cards and country estates — and invested it with a new sense, and/or sensibility, of this our modern age?

I'll tell you what if. Wash Westmoreland's handsome, achingly well-intentioned and less than lively Colette, is what if.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

When the creators of the HBO series The Deuce first approached Maggie Gyllenhaal about starring in the show as a sex worker, she didn't immediately say yes.

Set in New York City in the 1970s, The Deuce centers on the intersection of sex work, pornography, organized crime, the police, politicians and feminists. Gyllenhaal didn't have a problem with the role, but she did have strong feelings about how the power dynamics of sex should be portrayed.

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